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Searching For An Elusive Meteorite March 13, 2008

Posted by Mrs Weird Scientist in Space Exploration, Think About It.
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Credit: University of Western Ontario.

Ever wondered what a meteor falling to Earth looks like? Me too! Astronomers at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario managed to capture a very rare video of this cool event.

Using The Sky

So, how did the astronomers actually capture these images? Well, they have a network of sky-cameras in Southern Ontario. These cameras regularly scan across the sky, looking out for meteors. A professor at the university – Peter Brown – specializes in the study of meteors and meteorites. He found that just last week, the cameras grabbed an image of a massive fireball. Not only that, but the Physics and Astronomy Department also received numerous phone calls and emails from Ontario residents who had seen the light.

The Hunt Is On

Falling Meteor Now, astronomers want to find the one or more meteorites that may have hit the ground. They believe the meteorite could be in the Parry Sound area of Ontario and they’re hoping that residents there can help them to find the meteorites. Brown and Wayne Edwards – a post-doctoral student at the university – are working together to find the elusive meteorites.

Edwards explains:

Most meteoroids burn up by the time they hit an altitude of 60 or 70 kilometers from Earth. We tracked this one to an altitude of about 24 kilometers so we are pretty sure there are at least one, and possibly many meteorites, that made it to the ground.

The Challenge Continues

Falling Meteor Map Still, it’s no easy feat to investigate such a large area to find the meteorite. Fortunately, astronomers have narrowed down the area a bit. They are looking at a space of approximately 12 square kilometers.Edwards and Brown are obviously super keen to find the meteorite, which is no surprise, given how much they can learn from the discovery.

Edwards says:

We would love to find a recovered meteorite on this one, because we have the video and we have the data and by putting that together with the meteorite, there is a lot to be learned.

Better yet, they have created a map to provide even more help in locating the meteorite. As for picking up the meteorite if one is found – at least the astronomers don’t need to have strong arms. The meteorite is expected to only weigh a kilogram!

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1. caroline barnard - June 15, 2009

Hello…im pretty sure one hit the ground & landed close to feet when i was just a kid. i ran inside to tell my mom, but she said it was impossible. This must hav been around 1981 or so…

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